WhatsApp Hits the Road With Skits to Stamp Out Fake News in India

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India is WhatsApp’s largest market with 200 million users.

WhatsApp’s efforts to battle fake news in India include a limit on forwarded messages in a market where more users pass around messages, photographs and videos than any other.

JAIPUR (Reuters) — On a hot morning in India’s tourist city of Jaipur, an open truck painted in the signature lime-green colours of Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging service pulls into a dusty lane, where five men spill out and begin to perform a skit.

The event is part of a major grass-roots effort by WhatsApp to battle fake news, which has triggered numerous lynchings in a country where 200 million people use the service, more than anywhere else in the world.

The actors soon draw a crowd as the play unveils how spreading misinformation online can stir up mob violence, especially in the countryside, where caste and religious prejudices run deep.

“Our society is better than theirs and that’s why you should hate them,” says one, citing one example of an incendiary text circulating on WhatsApp in India. “If you are truly one of us, spread this message.”

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